The BlackBerry Curve is back and is now slimmer and sexier — the thinnest Curve there is. I’ve been using the Curve 9360 for a couple of week now since we went to Jakarta for the BlackBerry launch event last week. Check out our full review of the BlackBerry Curve 9360 after the jump.
The Curve 9360 looks pretty much similar to its predecessor although RIM has generously shaved off a lot of fat, making the device thin. The body is shaped with a lot of sharp curves and tapers toward the sides giving you the impression that it is really thin and light (which actually works).
The micro-USB port is at the left side of the handset while the 3.5mm audio port is at the top and aside from the lock button beside it, there’s not much else ports or buttons on the device. The volume controls on the right are masked by rubber pads so you don’t notice them right away.
The back panel is curved and has a piano-black finish with the BlackBerry logo etched at the top middle. There, you’ll find the 5MP camera flushed to the left side and the LED flash on the opposite side (gives it a symmetrical robotic eye look).
The one other button that is actually somewhat hidden is the Lock screen button at the top corner (like the forehead of the handset) which is indicated by a padlock sign.
The menu controls of the Curve 9360 remained practically the same from the previous models. It’s not a touch panel but a physically large button that you have to press down hard (and more often than not, using your fingernails instead of your fingers). Pretty awkward if your have big fingers but if this is how the Curve was built for so many years, I guess familiarity trumps everything else (I asked several old-time Curve users and this is something they actually complain about).
The Curve 9360 is among the first BlackBerry handsets to run BB OS 7 out of the box and despite the seemingly average specs of the Curve, the OS works flawlessly. It’s fast, fluid and very responsive. BB OS 7 is definitely very light and optimized (which is a wonder why they could not upgrade the older Curves into OS7).
As for apps, there’s access to the BlackBerry App World which offers plenty of downloads both paid and free. It’s great that the most popular ones like Facebook and Twitter are readily available, plus many more. Access to the Music Store is provided by Amazon MP3.
The Social Feeds aggregates messages from BBM, Twitter, Facebook, Google Talk, Windows Live and Yahoo! Messenger so that covers practically 99% of your online messaging needs.
The screen is small, measuring 2.44″ across but the display is actually really good at 246 ppi. It’s clean and crisp, relatively bright and has good contrast that’s still usable in the outdoors despite the glare. Video playback is smooth and rich in colors but I don’t think anyone would enjoy watching a full-length movie on this really small screen.
The audio on the Curve 9360 is surprisingly good. The default alert tones for calls and SMS seemed weak but when I played some music and videos, the speakers at the back panel were relatively powerful with good volume range and nice, crisp sound that’s not tinny at all.
The 5-megapixel camera takes decent pictures; a little grainy but way better than the previous Curves we’re tried. It’s not as good as the one on the Bold 9900 but it’s usable. The video capture isn’t as good either and there’s no HD quality video capture. The only useful features on the camera are the generous number of scene modes which includes Text Mode for taking pictures of documents. And no, there’s no secondary, front-facing camera here.
The full-qwerty keyboard is nice and easy to use — that is, if you have small fingers. They’re a bit cramped for my taste though.
The most notable addition to the Curve 9360 is the inclusion of Near-Field Communication (NFC) but there’s not much practical use for that now here in the Philippines.
The complete hardware configuration of the Curve 9360 is as follows (note that the internal storage is just 521MB so you’ll definitely need an extra microSD card if you want to takes photos or capture videos).
BlackBerry Curve 9360 specs:
2.44â€³ display @ 480Ã—360 pixel
512MB of RAM
512MB internal storage
up to 32GB microSD
WiFi 802.11 b/g
5MP camera with LED flash
VGA video recording
Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
GPS w/ aGPS support
BlackBerry OS 7.0
Li-Ion 1,000mAh battery
The battery capacity of the Curve 9360 is only 1,000mAh. That’s okay if you’re just into SMS or calls for the most part of the day but when you have BBM on and the Social Feeds running, your normal 2 to 2.5 days will easily drop down to just under a day (so don’t forget to bring along a portable battery pack).
The Curve 9360 is definitely the best-looking BlackBerry that RIM has ever made. No doubt about that. It’s slim, sexy and has all the curves at the right places. It’s so light and pocketable that you can place it in your breast pocket and easily forget about it.
If you’re after the basic BlackBerry services like BBM and the Social Feeds, the Curve 9360 fits the bill. Its got its own share of shortcomings (namely the battery, camera and the tiny keyboard) but certainly makes up for it in the looks and form factor. I’m actually thinking of it as a candidate for the best secondary phone.
The suggested retail price of Php16,990 is a bit on the steep side though considering the older and popular Curve 8250 is already in the sub-Php10k range.